Life terms for man who killed parents with sledgehammer

Cheryl Goodenough |

Christopher Puglia has been sentenced to 30 years’ jail for the sledgehammer murder of his parents.
Christopher Puglia has been sentenced to 30 years’ jail for the sledgehammer murder of his parents.

The heartbroken family of a couple bludgeoned to death by their son have comforted one another as he was sentenced.

Christopher Puglia, 35, will serve at least three decades behind bars after admitting he murdered his parents Franco and Loris Puglia with a sledgehammer at their home in Joyner, in Brisbane’s north on May 16, 2020.

The guilty plea was made just weeks before Puglia was due to face trial for the double murder.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment on each count of murder in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Tuesday, as family members supported one another in the public gallery.

Relatives going to celebrate Mrs Puglia’s 60th birthday found the bloody and disgusting murder scene, Justice Peter Applegarth said.

Puglia had moved from NSW to live with his parents after losing his job during the COVID-19 pandemic, the court heard.

Their relationship deteriorated over Puglia’s failure to find employment and help around the house.

After an altercation in which police were called, Puglia agreed to meet his parents’ expectations while they gave a deadline for him to find alternative accommodation.

But on Saturday, May 16, after helping his father in the garden, Puglia struck his parents multiple times with a sledgehammer before trying to put his father’s body in a wheelbarrow.

He packed belongings including food and alcohol before driving his father’s RAV4 to Southport where he slept the night.

The following day Puglia drove to NSW where he was arrested south of Newcastle, hours after his parents’ bodies were found with a sledgehammer and wheelbarrow nearby.

James Puglia and family members
James Puglia (centre) said his brother’s actions will continue to impact the family for years. (Cheryl Goodenough/AAP PHOTOS)

“I have suffered more mental and physical pain than you can imagine, yet I still stand strong in front of you today,” James Puglia told his brother in court.

“You have lost the right to call Frank and Loris your parents.”

Mr Puglia said his brother’s actions will continue to impact the family for years.

“How do we explain this to the next generation? The brutal event that took place.”

Photos from the scene were sealed and marked “disturbing images” only to be opened on a judge’s order during the sentencing hearing, with Justice Applegarth saying pictures are worth a thousand words.

The murderous actions of Puglia, who has no criminal history, are unexplained, Justice Applegarth said.

“To say that you were resentful, ungrateful, uncaring and selfish does not begin to explain the enormity of your actions.”

Christopher Puglia in a police car (file image)
Christopher Puglia must serve 30 years before being eligible for parole. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Describing the murders as callous and brutal, Justice Applegarth said the deaths came from several blows, delivered with deadly force.

“They are not explained by some developmental or psychiatric condition, or exposure to violence or sexual abuse or some other severe trauma as a child.”

Justice Applegarth hoped the couple’s family could replace thoughts of the murderer with thoughts of Mr and Mrs Puglia’s achievements and the happy times they had shared.

The court heard Mr Puglia was an insurance assessor while Mrs Puglia worked for Guide Dogs Australia.

Sentencing Puglia to life behind bars on each count of murder, Justice Applegarth ordered he serve 30 years before being eligible for parole.

After 2050 it would be for the Parole Board to decide whether Puglia should be released.

“It will consider whether your rehabilitation, if any, any eventual genuine remorse and the interests of community protection should see you released on parole or not,” Justice Applegarth told Puglia.

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